The first COVID-19 vaccinations in Eastern Ontario are scheduled to begin next week, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says. The first delivery of 1,200 doses will be administered in long-term care facilities, with the vaccination of the most vulnerable people expected to be completed by the end of the month. Meanwhile, the number of positive cases in Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, Prescott-Russell and the northern part of Akwesasne has increased to 511. Six patients are in hospital; none is in intensive care.
A 28-day province-wide shutdown in Ontario will go into effect December 26 in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19. The new rules restrict indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one other household. The province is banning in-person shopping in most retail settings; curbside pickup and delivery can continue. Discount and big box retailers selling groceries will be limited to 25 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Supermarkets, grocery stores and similar stores that primarily sell food, as well as pharmacies, will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take out, drive-through, and delivery only. All Ontarians are advised to stay home as much as possible with trips outside the home limited to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, or supporting vulnerable community members. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home. The winter break will be extended for schools. Elementary school students can return to in-person learning January 11, 2021, while secondary school students will continue learning remotely until January 25, at which point they may resume in-person learning.
In order to further limit the number of COVID-19 infections in the region, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has issued a new order for multidepartment retail and grocery stores.
The order limits crowding and ensures adequate physical distancing between shoppers in large retail and grocery stores in the eastern counties.
The EOHU issued the order in response to multiple, repeated complaints from the public about large multidepartment retailers not having adequate line or crowd control. The EOHU has also noted that within multidepartment stores many people tend to crowd in one department disproportionately (mostly grocery and pharmacy sections). Although overall store capacity limits may be respected, when most customers are shopping in one department at the same time, it is no longer possible to maintain the required physical distancing.
“With holiday shopping, we’re seeing large crowds in many stores, which increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at this critical time,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the EOHU. “I have issued this Order to protect employees, business patrons and the broader community. Putting measures in place to prevent spread of COVID-19 also protects our local businesses by helping us avoid business closures – a last resort to control the spread of the virus.”
The new order requires multidepartment retail and grocery stores to implement the following measures:
- Ensure that a maximum number of patrons is established and clearly marked for each department, and that departments are staffed to ensure that the total number of patrons permitted per department is respected. Overall store capacity limits must be respected.
- Post signs stating the total number of patrons permitted per department.
- For clarity, high traffic departments in multidepartment stores such as grocery and pharmacy departments must have their own capacity limits.
- The following additional measures must also be implemented to ensure crowd control:
- Ensure that the flow of patrons is enforced and that patrons congregating together or walking against the directions of the arrows are reminded to abide by the rules.
- Calculate the maximum number of patrons permitted in each department or section based on the square footage available for patrons (available footage excludes areas occupied by shelves, cash registers, etc.).
- Calculate the maximum number of patrons permitted in each department or section based on the availability of staff to control the traffic and ensure that the implemented measures are enforced.
- Control lineups both inside and outside the store to ensure physical distancing of at least 2 metres is maintained, and to ensure the total number of patrons in any given department or section is not exceeded because of lined up patrons.
The EOHU, in collaboration with other enforcement agencies, will be increasing inspections of local businesses to ensure compliance with the new order and other public health requirements aimed at protecting businesses, employees and the public.
To learn more about the new Order, consult the official document on the EOHU’s website. For more information about COVID-19, including business-specific requirements, visit the health unit’s website at EOHU.ca/coronavirus and Ontario’s website at https://covid-19.ontario.ca.
The Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry Ontario Provincial Police detachment is seeking a person who stabbed a 28-year-old man Wednesday night at a Main Street, Alexandria residence.
The attacker fled the scene after stabbing the victim who was transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The individual responsible has yet to be located but there is no risk to public safety, says the detachment.
While at the location another man became combative with officers.
The man resisted arrest and threatened officers during the incident.
Roch Pariseau, 26, of South Glengarry, was arrested and charged with uttering threats, obstructing and resisting a peace officer.
One classroom has been closed at St. Finnan's Catholic elementary school in Alexandria after a positive COVID-19 case was detected there.
The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario reported December 13 that fewer than five individuals at the school were infected.
Meanwhile, a second case of COVID-19 has been reported at Glengarry District High School in Alexandria.
The Upper Canada District related December 13 that an additional individual at the school has tested positive for COVID-19.
The first case was reported December 11.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit is not declaring this an outbreak as the cases are not linked to the school environment. The school remains open and operating on the regular daily schedule.
"There is no doubt that it has been a challenging year for all of us. The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to change the way we do things and interact with one another. From inconveniences such as wearing masks, to waiting in lines to enter buildings, to having to keep a distance from others, it’s been stressful and frustrating. It has been especially hard on our families and relationships as we’ve had to find other ways to juggle family, school and work, and to stay connected with those we care about. For too many, the year has also brought hardship and tragedy, from lost financial stability to lost loved ones who have perished from the coronavirus. In our community, and across the globe, COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll.
In spite of the challenges we’ve faced, our community has largely come together to help protect one another from the spread of the virus, following public health precautions such as masking and social distancing when out in public, and finding alternative ways to connect with loved ones and to look out for each other. Many of our local businesses, schools and healthcare workers have made extraordinary efforts to prevent spread of the virus. Collectively, our efforts have helped avoid uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in our community, and for this I am extremely grateful.
However, we are at a critical point in the second wave of this pandemic. The EOHU region has experienced a significant increase in COVID-19 cases over recent weeks. As we have seen with other areas of the province, community spread can accelerate rapidly and threaten healthcare capacity in hospitals and other services that we all rely on. Uncontrolled spread can also threaten the local economy by forcing the shutdown of businesses as a last resort to stop the spread of the virus. And as we know too well in our own region, it can have devastating consequences for our most vulnerable residents.
While we are all experiencing pandemic fatigue and yearning for a return to better days, it is imperative to continue following public health precautions if we hope to keep COVID cases at a manageable level in our community.
For this reason, I am urging residents to consider ways to celebrate the holidays safely this season. In the holiday spirit of kindness, compassion and generosity towards our community – and in the hopes for a better 2021 – following public health guidelines will be extremely important over the coming weeks so that we don’t experience a post-holiday surge of COVID cases that puts people’s lives, health and livelihood at risk.
We can celebrate safely while protecting our loved ones and our community by limiting in-person celebrations to the people we live with, or with one other household if you live alone. There are also many creative ways to celebrate the holidays safely with family and friends who we don’t live with, such as having virtual gatherings, and sharing meals or opening gifts together online. We can also help keep everyone safe by limiting trips into the community to essential errands only and staying home when we aren’t feeling well. When we are out in public, we should continue to avoid crowds, wear our masks, keep 2 metres distance from others and clean our hands regularly.
In spite of the year’s hardships, 2020 is drawing to an end with reason for optimism – vaccines are on the horizon which will help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our lives and allow for the gradual return to more normal activities. In the meantime, let’s continue to follow public health precautions and keep our loved ones and our community safe so that we can look forward together to better times in 2021.
For more on how to celebrate safely, and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s website at www.EOHU.ca.
Wishing everyone health and happiness this holiday season."
The region served by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit will revert from Yellow to Orange status under the province's COVID-19 framework. And the Orange label will remain for at least the next month.
Based on the latest data, the Orange designation, which denotes stricter restrictions than the Yellow code, the level change will take effect December 14.
For long-term care homes, visitor restrictions apply to those homes in the public health unit regions that are in the Orange-Restrict level or higher. In addition, long-term care homes must implement recently enhanced testing requirements.
Trends in public health data will continue to be reviewed weekly to determine if public health units should stay where they are or be moved into a different level.
Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level. The government and the Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to consult regularly with local medical officers of health on local context and conditions to help inform the classification of their public health unit region.
More COVID-19 cases have been reported in area schools.
Individuals at Glengarry District High School, La Source in Moose Creek, Holy Trinity Catholic high school in South Glengarry, Tagwi Secondary School in Avonmore, and at Laggan Public School have tested positive, according to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.
A $100,000 lottery ticket, which was sold in rural Eastern Ontario, remains unclaimed.
There are two weeks left to claims the Encore Lotto Max prize from the December 24, 2019 draw.
The winning numbers were 1 – 9 – 3 – 2 – 8 – 5 – 0.
The owner(s) of this ticket should fill in the back portion, sign it and contact the OLG Support Centre at 1-800-387-0098.
The number of active cases in the region served by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit has risen by 39 since Tuesday, bringing the total to 260.
The biggest spike was reported in Cornwall, where 31 new cases have been recorded between December 8 and 9, according to the health unit.
Eight patients have been hospitalized. None is intensive care.